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Louisville, Kentucky, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2008 | SELF

Louisville, Kentucky, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2008
Band Folk Latin


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Appalatin - Bluegrass Bolero, Countrified Cumbia"

Last Saturday, immigration reform advocates marched on Monument Circle asking Congress to approve an upcoming bill that would provide a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants residing in the Unites States. Reflecting on the contributions undocumented immigrants make daily in our country, it's clear we can no longer afford to ask if immigration reform is possible, but rather how soon can it happen?

Recent waves of Latino immigrants have exerted a particularly strong influence, revitalizing desolate neighborhoods through entrepreneurial investment. They've uplifted communities with their rich cultural tradition.

The music of Louisville's Appalatin provides a remarkably unique example of that Latino cultural influence at work right here in the heartland of the United States. With members representing Ecuador, Nicaragua, Mexico, Guatemala and Kentucky, Appalatin have reinvented traditional Appalachian music by infusing Latin rhythm and song into the rural folk form. It's a surprisingly seductive blend of bluegrass bolero and countrified cumbia.

I recently spoke with the band's two Kentucky natives, string player Yani Vozos and percussionist Steve Sizemore. Appalatin will appear at Birdy's on Thursday, June 20th.

NUVO: How did Appalatin form?

Yani Vozos: Steve and I had been playing music together in 2006. Around that time we met Marlon Obando who invited us to sit in on a gig he had at the Jazz Factory in Louisville. So we got together at Marlon's house for a rehearsal and we weren't quite sure what was going to happen.

We all like Latin music. So we started playing together - - it was a Cuban song we were playing on. We played the gig and didn't take it very seriously. We didn't say we're going to make a band out of it, but it happened. People who heard us kept calling us asking for more shows.

NUVO: Was the Latin-Appalachian fusion already in place at these early shows?

Steve Sizemore: It was never intentional in the beginning. I would say we've explored that more deeply in the last couple years. When you get a bunch of different musicians together, they kind of form their own language. It becomes a kind of pidgin or creole and we put our Kentucky twang on that.

Vozos: I remember a specific moment when it came together. At first we were just playing a lot of Latin music. When Fernando Moya joined the band he brought in a tune that mixed "Shady Grove," which is a traditional Appalachian style tune with a traditional Andean folk tune. When I heard that I was like "Wow, we've got something here that we can run with."

NUVO: Growing up in Kentucky, how did you two get into Latin music?

Sizemore: I started listening to jazz when I was thirteen. Through my interest in jazz I started listening to Latin jazz. Around that time I discovered Buena Vista Social Club and fell in love. Everything kind of branched out from there. Then I moved down to Argentina which completely entrenched the music in me.

Vozos: After college, I joined the Peace Corps and was placed in Honduras. In preparation for the move I made a lot of tapes of Latin music. Right about that time I heard the Buena Vista Social Club and was completely fascinated with their music. In the process of learning Spanish in Honduras I would reference their songs and lyrics to learn words. That's where it started for me, using music to learn the language and immerse myself in the culture. It's beautiful, passionate and emotional music. That's something I don't think anyone can resist.

NUVO: What sorts of instruments will we see in your live set?

Vozos: Everything from guitars and upright bass to charango, which is an Andean instrument that's a hybrid of the ukelele and mandolin. Fernando plays the whole gamut of Andean flutes, which are all handcrafted by him. He's a master musician. Steve plays a long list of percussion like guiro, congas, cajon and the Brazilian bass drum surdo. Our shows are almost like a Smithsonian Institute exhibition of musical instruments.

NUVO: You just released your second album?

Vozos: Yes, it's called Waterside. The album has a theme, which happened unintentionally. It's a theme of water - - the spiritual, healing power of water. Several of us came with songs we'd written and as we started working through them as a group we realized they were connected by themes or statements about water or rain. Every song touched on it. - NUVO Weekly

"CD Review: Waterside by Appalatin"

When people who have never experienced Kentucky think about music from there, more often than not, Bluegrass and Country music will be the first things that come to mind, but there are some fine Jazz musicians there, at least three very good Salsa bands and a growing Latin American community (especially in the Louisville-Lexington corridor) that is giving birth to some interesting bands including Appalatin. This group fuses Andean instruments (charango, a member of the lute family, and sapoñas, a form of Andean flutes) with harmonicas, guitars and Caribbean percussion and cajón in a mix of Andean music, Appalachian and "roots" music and cumbia among other things. -

"Beat Latino: Appalatin"

(IN SPANISH) La verdad ni nosotros mismos hubiéramos podido predecir la fusión que creamos”, dice Steve Sizemore, percusionista de la banda Appalatin, comentando por teléfono la música de su banda Appalatin, sexteto que nació en Louisville, Kentucky, y mezcla la música bluegrass de ese estado con diversos ritmos latinos. - Vive Lo Hoy (Chicago)

"Appalatin Spreads the Love Around"

Mountains are the common link between the six members of Appalatin, who each took a different path to arrive in Louisville before the turn of the aughts.

Yani Vozos, Kentucky-born, picked up Spanish while living in Honduras on a Peace Corps trip. His lingual education wasn’t far off from Marlon Obando’s upbringing in Nicaragua. On this common ground, they wrote songs containing both Spanish and English lyrics.

Fernando Moya was already engrossed in performance with the traditional Andean group Andes Manta before extending his skills on wooden flutes and charango in Appalatin.

Steve Sizemore perhaps described it best when he said, “It just entered my soul,” about his experience living in South America from ’99-01. Now he bangs out on the bongos, conga and cajón drums, which are a heavy hip-shaking enticer of their African percussion selection.

Louis de Leon is the one you hear wailing on harmonica, something he picked up living in Guatemala. He also plays additional percussion, which he pulls out of a sticker-plastered suitcase filled with African instruments.

They all crossed paths in 2009, individually led by a connection with Latin culture and their destination of Louisville. Sharing a love for the rich Afro-Cuban allure of Buena Vista Social Club, the band merged their colorful backgrounds into a spread of Andean-inspired blues, using indigenous flutes as counterparts to harmonica and acoustic folk flairs. They are a fusion band of both language and style, proving that, when it comes to the roots, Latin America is a doppelganger.

“I definitely see parallels between roots music and the kind of Latin music we play,” says bassist Luke McIntosh, who has been with Appalatin for the past year. “It’s really not quite as strange a fusion as people think.”

Appalatin sealed this sound in their definitive, self-titled debut from 2010. It opens with “Canta Mi Gente,” set over a classic Cuban “son” style of music, reflecting their original connection to that historic music club from Havana. The title means “sing my people,” and since the beginning, this is what Appalatin set out to do: connect others through music. That’s why they write songs like “Spread the Love Around” and lyrics that tell us to “make sweet, sweet love,” because love is the answer to every problem of the sort.

This Friday marks the release of their second album, Waterside, joined bylocal songbird Andrea Davidson (who performs guest vocals on the single “Down by the Waterside” and throughout the record). The event launches Appalatin’s second effort in the local realm, and soon beyond if touring ensues as planned.

“It’s all poco a poco,” says Vozos, who holds down guitar and vocals with Obando, “little by little.”

It is apparent the Kentucky environment was the creative muse for Waterside, which features more foot-stompers than their debut. Take the “Danville Stomp” for a ride and try not to lose step in the sweep of the mandolin and harmonica. To a region that has shown continuous support, Appalatin honors it with “Kentucky Soul,” a ballad that earns the tag Latin-Americana.

Together, these men forged a space in modern music where there was a solid link from Appalachia to the Andes Mountains. It was only a matter of time until the rest of Louisville picked up on it.

Appalatin played their first gig at the Jazz Factory, and through the support of Heine Bros. Coffee co-founder Mike Mays, performed regularly at different Bros. in Louisville.

“We owe a lot to Mike Mays, because he gave us that venue to basically experiment,” says Vozos.

On May 19, Appalatin played their largest gig to date — and possibly to their biggest crowd — opening for the Dalai Lama at the KFC Yum! Center. In fact, they played twice.

“The vibe was pretty special,” says Vozos, recalling the sense of world peace.

Any member of Appalatin will tell you that the ways we can relate to one another are valuable. For them, it is through music; through the music of Appalatin, we can also form new bonds. It takes just a little bit of love. - LEO Weekly

"Appalatin Combine Latin Music and Mountain Folk"

Appalatin is an accidental band that, in all likelihood, never should have become a reality, at least not in Louisville. How six guys found their way from all over the world to meet here with a shared love of Latin music and mountain folk is serendipitous, indeed.

Marriages, work and family are what lead most outsiders here, and the players of Appalatin are no different. Steve Sizemore, a percussionist, arrived in town via graduate school and a job. Yani Vozos (guitar, mandolin, charango, vocals) has a Louisvillian mother, so he’s the one native in the group. Luis de Leon (harmonica, güiro, maracas, percussion) hails from Guatemala, Marlon Obando Solano (guitar, vocals) grew up in Nicaragua, and Mario Cardenas (bass) and Fernando Moya (charango, quena, sampona, quenacho) share Ecuadorian roots.

Vozos, Solano and Sizemore were the nucleus, each meeting soon after arriving in town. The sextet became a cohesive unit in 2006, and Appalatin began to hone their craft at Heine Brothers Coffee.

“Marlon is a gifted artist, a jewelry maker,” Sizemore says. While exhibiting at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, he met one of Heine’s managers, who offered the band an ongoing gig at their Douglass Loop location.

“That opportunity helped us build our sound and repertoire,” Sizemore says. “We began sharing songs, and little by little, started introducing songs to each other.”

Their self-released, eponymous album became available at ear X-tacy and the Kentucky Crafted market in March 2011, quickly garnering high praise and solid sales.

Described on the band’s website as “a fusion of Latin and Appalachian folk music from the band members’ homelands in Central America, the Andes and Appalachia,” Sizemore says people were fascinated by the sound. “A year and a half ago, we came to the point of asking ourselves if we’re serious. If we are, let’s record,” he says.

The album is filled with up-tempo songs that are unashamedly positive, and their lyrics tackle an array of serious topics: empowerment, human rights, environmentalism, freedom. “Part of our vision is to lift people’s spirits,” Sizemore says.

The band has been playing shows around Louisville, mostly at coffee shops and outdoor fairs. Right now they’re focused on two things: being a positive force and keeping themselves happy. As Sizemore says, “We have fun together!”
- LEO Weekly, Louisville, KY

"Musica Latina y el Ambiente Musical de Louisville: Appaltin"

Please refer to URL below - Al Dia en America

"Musica Latina y el Ambiente Musical de Louisville: Appaltin"

Please refer to URL below - Al Dia en America

"Appalatin: A Perfect Rhythm Falling Into Place"

"There is a band a bit hidden in the shadows here locally, in Louisville , but also not yet visible in what ought to be its spot on the national scene, here in the United States . Nesting in Louisville since 2006, slowly taking its time to form and blossom, Appalatin is comprised of six working professionals who haven’t quit their day jobs — two native Kentuckians and four immigrant Kentuckians from Latin America , who do lot of professional-quality music in their spare time." - Louisville Music News


Waterside - 2013  Self-released. Recorded at Shangri-La Studio, Lexington, KY.  Produced by Duane Lundy
Appalatin - 2011  Self-released. Recorded at Ernst Studio, Louisville, KY. 



One of the most unique bands in our city and we are so lucky to call them ours even though they belong to the world at large. They are also one of the best live bands I've ever seen! - Laura Shine, WFPK Radio Louisville

"Appalatin have reinvented traditional Appalachian music by infusing Latin rhythm and song into the rural folk form. It's a surprisingly seductive blend of bluegrass bolero and countrified cumbia." - Kyle Long, Nuvo, Indianapolis

Appalatins foot-stomping, hip-swinging sounds organically unite Appalachian folk and high-energy Latin music. The name, Appalatin, reflects the unexpected meeting in Louisville, KY of Kentucky-raised musicians and masterful Latin migrs from Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. Their all-acoustic performances of traditional stings of guitar, mandolin, upright bass, and charango, indigenous Andean flutes, hand percussion, harmonica and vocal harmonies have brought joy and happiness to listeners of all ages.

In May of 2013, the band released its second studio album, Waterside. The album features original music and interpretations of traditional songs from their native regions of Kentucky, Central America, and the Andes. On the new album, Appalatin follows their instincts with a bilingual shift between languages, styles, and vibes. From the seriously Americana-inflected title track "Down by the Waterside" and Danville Breakdown, to upbeat acoustic Latin La Linea, to the outright Andean traditional tune Alpa Mayo and Fernando Moya's Quechua contribution, Nuka Shungo, Appalatin's infectiously danceable tunes spring from the bands shared love of roots music.

After starting out playing a weekly show at a local coffee shop for free coffee in 2006, the band has since performed at some of their region’s most prestigious stages and venues. Since the release of their first album in 2011, the band has shared the stage with such reknown artists as Red Baraat, Sam Bush, Claire Lynch, The Black Lilies, Dubtonic Kru, Ben Sollee, and Andrea Davidson. They have performed at the RiverRoots Music and Folk Arts Festival (IN), CityFolk Festival (OH), WorldFest (KY), Culturefest (WV), and in May of 2013, they had the honor of performing before 10,000+ people in Louisville’s Yum! Center at the Dalai Lama’s Public Talk. They have also appeared on radio shows such as Michael Jonathon’s Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour, Red Barn Radio, 91.9 FM WFPK’s “Live Lunch”, Kentucky Homefront and were featured on West Virginia Public Radio’s “Inside Appalachia.” In addition, the track “Alpa Mayo” from their Waterside album has appeared on PRI’s “The World.” 

In 2014, the band was recognized with the Louisville Music Award for Best Americana Band category.  In addition they celebrated the release of the Kentucky Muse documentary film special shown on PBS affiliate Kentucky Educational Television on the band and has been selected to be aired on other affiliate stations nationwide.  

Band Members